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Christians Celebrate Christmas; Pope Expresses Concern at Violence

Hundreds of millions of Christians worldwide are celebrating Christmas Saturday.  Pope John Paul, in his traditional Christmas Day message, expressed concern at violence in the Middle East and Africa.

The Roman Catholic pontiff said he follows the situation in Iraq with "great apprehension."   He said he has "anxious concern" about the situation in the Holy Land but also feels "invincible confidence" at the prospects for peace there.

President Bush issued a Christmas Day call for Americans to volunteer to help the neediest of their fellow citizens. The President also acknowledged Americans serving in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere around the world.

Britain's Queen Elizabeth sent a special radio message to her troops serving around the world expressing pride and gratitude. Later in her annual televised Christmas message, the Queen highlighted Britain's ethnic and religious diversity and appealed for tolerance.

Some information for this report provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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